Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Orchestration: Providing Teachers with Scaffolding to Address Curriculum Standards and Students' Pace of Learning

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Orchestration: Providing Teachers with Scaffolding to Address Curriculum Standards and Students' Pace of Learning

Article excerpt


Around the world, significant investment in educational technology is being made (Kozma 2011; Kozma et al., 2014; Schulte, 2014). Independent research has concluded that providing each child with a computer fosters the development of digital skills (Beuermann, Cristia, Cruz-Aguayu, Cueto, & Malamud, 2013). However, there is still no evidence to suggest that having access to a computer improves learning in Math or Reading (Beuermann, Cristia, Cruz-Aguayu, Cueto, & Malamud, 2013).

Integrating technology into educational processes is not simply a case of providing access, but in fact a way of promoting improvements in student learning (Hernandez-Ramos, 2005). This begs a rethinking of the supposed connection between the potential provided by these new tools and the existing needs of educational processes. This is worth considering from both the perspective of the teachers, teaching process, as well as of the students, learning process In this sense, there is a need to align the design of learning experiences, i.e., line up the coherence and consistency of the pedagogical activities, with the way in which teachers address student needs (Hermans et al., 2008; Beetham & Sharpe, 2013; Suarez et al., 2013).

Orchestration can provide such an alignment within the process of integrating technology into the classroom. The literature has described orchestration as a tool that provides: robust and innovative forms of teaching and learning, by taking classroom ecology into consideration; efficiency, by facilitating the use of familiar, tested resources; adoptability, as it helps the teacher organize the necessary resources; and adaptability, as teachers can rely on strategies for adapting the resources according to contingencies that may arise (Dillenbourg, Nussbaum, Dimitriadis, & Roschelle, 2013). In this regard, and within the framework of schools that have access to technology, this study sought to understand: Is there a significant increase in student learning when the teacher uses orchestration? In relation to this, our second question aims to identify: What elements are associated with a greater increase in learning within a context of orchestrated learning experiences?

Kennedy (2005) points out that the taxonomy regarding the tasks that a teacher should carry out has been based more on idealized conceptualizations than on reality or the teachers' needs. For example, the paces of a class i.e., the different students learning rhythms, or maintaining a favorable learning environment considering aspects as usage of time, space and classroom resources, are fundamental necessities not necessarily considered. However, good teaching is not just determined by school-level factors or a teacher's knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes. It is also determined by considering the needs of the students, as well as other classroom- and student-level factors (OECD, 2009). It has been highlighted the importance of student and teacher needs and interests when faced with the challenge of creating favorable learning environments in the classroom (Slavin, 2006). Wu, Tu, Wu, Le and Reynolds (2012) discuss paying attention to diversity within the classroom, focusing their research mainly on the consideration of a student's individual progress within the learning process, i.e., considering the different paces of learning within a classroom. The third question arises: When systematically implementing strategies that consider student learning pace, what type of impact does this have?

By answering these three questions, this study looks to bring new information to the existing literature on orchestration. It also looks to provide the tools to empower teachers when integrating technology into the curriculum. One of the main differences in the design of the orchestration used in this study is that it takes into account each student's individual pace of learning. Furthermore, it also monitors the standards that the curriculum requires of a teacher. …

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